ISLAMABAD: An accountability court on Monday issued bailable arrest warrant for Finance Minister, Ishaq Dar as he failed to appear before the court for the hearing of references case filed by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) for acquiring assets beyond his known means of income, Aaj News reported.
At the commencement of the trial, Dar’s counsel, Khawaja Haris filed an application seeking exemption of finance minister from personally appearing before the court today.
The application cited that, Dar fell ill immediately after attending a conference in Tajikistan and subsequently had to be taken to London for medical treatment.
However, Judge Mohammad Bashir dismissed Dar’s application and issued bailable arrest warrants for Dar.
The court has ordered Haris to assure finance minister’s appearance on the next hearing on November 2, adding that, Dar’s bail will be sacked if he failed to appear in the next hearing.
In the last hearing, Judge Muhammad Bashir recorded the statements of two witness produced by NAB. The witnesses include Masoodul Ghani of Habib Bank and Abdul Rehman Gondal of Allied Bank. Both the witnesses testified against Dar.
Earlier on Wednesday (18 October) the court adjourned the hearing of the graft cases till October 23 after the Dar’s senior counsel left the country abruptly.
The court in previous hearing has also rejected Dar’s plea to exempt him from personally appearing before the court.
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On 27 September 2017, Judge Muhammad Bashir read out the charges put up against Dar and indicted Dar. Dar on the other hand has rejected the charges put up against him and decided to contest them.
Dar was credited with steering Pakistan’s economy to a sounder footing following a 2013 balance of payments crisis but over the past year those economic gains have begun to erode, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and analysts.
Growth in the $300 billion economy hit 5.3 percent last fiscal year (July-June), the fastest pace in a decade, but foreign currency reserves have dwindled and the 2016/17 current account deficit has more than doubled to $12.1 billion.
Dar’s reluctance to let the rupee weaken to ease current account pressures has courted criticism from economists, who say the PML-N is making economic decisions with one eye on the next general election, likely to be held in mid-2018.
Some analysts have warned Pakistan may need to go back to the IMF for another bailout package if current trends continue.
Under new Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Dar has been removed from the post of chairing the cabinet’s powerful Economic Coordination Committee.